The job of a leader is influencing the behavior of others using the tools he or she has available. Your most powerful tool is the example you set for your people. One of my leadership role models, Captain James W. Ayers put it this way: “There is no leadership without leadership by example. Your only choice is the example you set.
The people who work for you watch you carefully. They pay attention to the things you pay attention to. They will be as ethical or not as you are. What you notice and reward, they will value.
Make sure that your walk and your talk send the same message. The folks who work for you will know in heartbeat if what you do and what you say don’t match up.
Consider your actions. Consider their impact.
Shelly Lazarus is Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide Chairman. Because she’s the boss, she’s also a role model. She didn’t get any choice about that. Neither do you.
Ms Lazarus is not entirely comfortable with being a role model, but she takes it seriously. She works consciously to make sure her actions and her words match up. Here’s how she sets the example for her people.
“I know that work-family balance is important … I choose always to go to the school play, and field day and all that [because] it gives other women in the company, or clients, the confidence to be able to say, ‘I’m going, too.'”
It’s not always easy to be the role model for everyone. But if you’re the boss, that’s part of the job.
Boss’s Bottom Line
You don’t have any choice about whether you’re a role model for your people. But you do have a choice about what kind of behavior you model.